On Campus From Dallas

This year just wasn't the year. With the Big 12 tournament over on the first day for the Cyclones, we all are left wondering if this is the most disappointing season for Iowa State. All year, despite the struggles and tribulations, there was still that speck of optimism that Iowa State would turn things around in time for the post-season. When ISU moved to 4-4 in conference play, an NCAA birth was still a legitimate possibility. A loss to Kansas State followed.

This year just wasn't the year. With the Big 12 tournament over on the first day for the Cyclones, we all are left wondering if this is the most disappointing season for Iowa State. All year, despite the struggles and tribulations, there was still that speck of optimism that Iowa State would turn things around in time for the post-season. When ISU moved to 4-4 in conference play, an NCAA birth was still a legitimate possibility. A loss to Kansas State followed. That was the first in a four game stretch that ruled out the NCAA's. But, this team could make a run in the tournament, I told myself. They had the talent. They had the guards. And lord knows, at some point they had to improve on the defensive end. We were tricked once again. The game against Oklahoma State was the Big 12 season in a nutshell.

 

Bad Start. 

Six minutes into the elimination game and the Cyclones were already behind by nine:15-6. This has been an absolute constant this season. Time and again, Iowa State dug themselves a grave. Even in wins against Colorado and Missouri, the Clones looked like they may get buried alive early. I can think of the Drake and Colorado State games this year as the only true times Iowa State put the foot down early and put the lead out of reach in the first 10 minutes. When you don't start well, it makes things extra difficult. It's like getting down 5-0 in the first inning; it's possible to come back, but the bullpen isn't quite as reliable if they have to play for long periods of times.

 

A Middle of the Game Run.

How many times this year did we see a point in the game, where ISU looked like world-beaters? Trailing by 18 with 15 minutes to play, the Cyclones went on a 22-8 run in the next 10 minutes. They looked great on defense. The guards were pressuring the ball, forcing turnovers and letting the big dudes not have to guard one-on-one. Shots were falling and Iowa State was electric in transition. Oklahoma State looked as rattled as Phil Mickelson when Tiger's on the leader board. This proves the Clones have the ability to compete. Which only adds to the irritation.

 

Lack of Closer.

I'm sure you are tired of me going over this, but once again the Cyclones had an opportunity down the stretch, only to falter. After pulling to within two with 1:52 to play, the good guys finished the game 1 of 4 in FGs and FTs with three turnovers. OSU on the other hand went 8 of 10 and had no turnovers. That isn't a good combo to win games.

 

No Interior Defense.

Torre Johnson and Mario Boggan went a comined 29 of 33 from the field and free-throw line. They had 29 points at halftime. They average 27 points together….for the entire game. Today they had 43 points and 14 rebounds. The bigs were just never able to get accustomed to Big 12 basketball. In games where ISU out-rebounded teams in conference play, they were 4-0. Maybe it was weight? Maybe it was aggressiveness? Maybe it was youth? Whatever it is, the improvement didn't come quick enough. Taggart scored 16 points in his first game at Iowa State. He never scored that many again this year. Sometimes it wasn't meant to be.

 

For the second half, Bill Self decided he wanted to sit next to me. Ok, it wasn't because of me, it was the open seat. I overhead conversations he had with other media. He made it clear; he didn't want to face Stinson and Blalock another time. He won't have to. Hopefully, it won't be the time we see Stinson and Blalock play in the Big 12. I don't want this disappointment to be their legacy.    


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